Turks & Caicos – July 2017

In the midst of all the controlled chaos in my world, I wanted to spend some time alone to relax and recharge.  I also didn’t want to feel obligated to explore and travel somewhere every day to discover some hidden treasure.  I wanted to have the choice to do absolutely nothing if I chose to do so without the guilt of knowing I was ignoring some grand adventure.  Being that the islands are a common honeymoon destination, I figured there would be a lot of places to get that relaxation I was craving.  I have always heard how beautiful Turks & Caicos was, and it did not disappoint.  Seeing the turquoise waters from the plane on the descent made me smile and take a huge sigh.  It…looked…gorgeous!

I chose to stay in an Air BnB because I didn’t want to pay a lot for my accommodation when I wasn’t sure how much I would be there anyway.  Also, I wanted to have a more quiet atmosphere than what I knew the resort area would allow.  The main resort area was less than a 10-minute drive from where I was staying so I was completely fine that.  I checked into my Air BnB which was located in The Yacht Club at Turtle Cove Marina just outside of Providenciales and about 10-15 minutes from the airport.  Within walking distance are a handful of restaurants, Provo scuba shop, Scooter Bob’s where you can rent scooters and vehicles, and a few beaches within walking distance.

I highly recommend leasing a car instead of calling for taxis.  I tried that route, and you are basically on their schedule.  Besides, having a vehicle allows you the ability to explore whenever you want.  All the locals strongly urged me NOT to rent a scooter.  They said if I did, to just ride it during the morning because afternoon traffic gets bad and people are known to drink and drive.  (Noted:  vehicles – good, scooters – bad)

A car rental runs anywhere from $40-50 per day, depending on how long you need it, and $15 per day collision insurance if you require it.  Keep in mind gas prices are currently about $5 per gallon, and they eat you alive with taxes on everything so expect to pay a little extra.  Oh!  And don’t forget to stay to the left when driving 🙂  (Side note: Scooter Bob’s will take you to the airport when you drop your vehicle off.  High five!)

Now on to places worth checking out!

FOOD:

Mango Reef restaurant:  I walked over for an early dinner.  It is an open air restaurant overlooking the marina, with a bar at each end.  The hosts and servers were amiable and accommodated my gluten sensitivity.  I ordered from their pre-fixe menu (3-courses) which was $44, along with a glass of wine (happy hour!).  The chef even had a gluten free macaroon (with ice cream in the middle) that tasted amazing!!  The total for the meal was ~$55.

Mr. Groupers:  I found this place on Yelp and when I asked around about it, people said it had good food, so off I went.  I order the grilled grouper and rice with steamed veggies which were all pretty tasty.  Perfect portions, not too much or too little.  I sat at the bar, and the bartender was friendly, as well as the servers that checked on me occasionally.  Dinner with a drink came to ~$40.

CocoVan:  The coach from the Crossfit gym recommended this place for a relaxed, casual atmosphere and good food.  It’s located next to a place called CoCo Bistro.  I pulled in the parking lot and noticed the sign pointing to the right of the other restaurant.  IT WAS A FOOD TRUCK!!  So cute!  Very simple yet cozy outdoor seating with large palms overhead, which came in handy because it started to sprinkle while I was waiting on my food.  But wait!  One of the servers started handing out huge golf umbrellas with their logo on it!  Score!  Clearly, this wasn’t their first rodeo.  Back to the important stuff…the food.  You order food at the food truck, then order drinks at the bar.  I ordered the blackened shrimp tacos with mango salsa AND the gorgonzola fries.  Nom nom nom!  Oh…and a glass of the house cabernet ($8 glass and $12 after taxes).  The total for my whole meal, including my drink, was $47.

Retreat Kitchen:  I walked in this cozy little cafe to see antiqued white tables with chairs and a long bench on one side with pillows lining it.  The shelves on one side housed their brand of bagged coffee and other related items, as well as sustainable wine.  I giggled when I saw “GF” next to the pastries on the chalk menu on the walk.  Don’t expect a huge menu as they only have daily specials.  However, the choices (which include vegetarian and gluten free) are diverse enough to settle your belly’s cravings.  I ordered the zucchini noodle bowl, a root juice, a gluten free cookie and gluten free banana walnut muffin (Don’t judge. Good gluten free pastries are difficult to come by!)  As you can see in the photo below, the portions were decent size!  It was all quite tasty, and I am hoping I can make it back in here before I leave!  My total for everything was $30. Thank you Manesha for the hospitality!

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PLACES TO VISIT:

CrossFit Iron Shore:  I dropped into this box, the only one on the island. It’s been here for one year and has about ten people that seem to show for each class.  I contacted them via FaceBook and was told to register online for whatever day I wanted to drop in.  Ben welcomed the other athletes and me and introduced everyone.  Then we warmed up before we started throwing some weights around.  Overall, the hospitality from everyone was awesome!  Highly recommend going in for a great workout!

Chalk Sound:  This place was recommended by the girl at Scooter Bob’s.  She said it was less busy and relaxing.  The drive over was so fun, and I enjoyed the scenery on the way.  It was a mere 6 miles from where I stayed.  Parking is along the street, and the entrance was a bit conspicuous.  Once I walked down the path though, it opened up to some of the most crystal clear and turquoise blue water along a beautiful white sandy beach.  There were privately owned homes and villas to rent lining the coast.  This place is a MUST if you want some secluded beach time away from all the hustle and bustle

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Potcake Place:  I came across an advertisement for this place in a local tourist magazine.  When I read you could take the dogs out for walks and to the beach, I knew I had to check it out!  I arrived at a small “store” where several dogs were in separated play pens.  I asked one of the volunteers if I could take one of the pups for a walk and they asked if I could take “Moe” since he hadn’t been on a walk yet that morning.  They pointed to one of the most adorable little faces that was staring back at me.  Love!  Yes…yes, I will take him…for a walk, I mean. 🙂  They hooked Moe up to a harness and leash, gave me a tote bag with potty bags, a water bottle and bowl, treats, and toys.  Next, I signed off on a waiver with the do’s and don’ts while he was in my custody.  Then off we went!  He happily grabbed his leash in his mouth and started to lead me around like he owned me.  Moe was a little unsure of the ocean, so after a quick dip we sat and cuddled on the beach before I had to have him back in the shop.  In the one hour, we were gone, 2 of the puppies had been adopted, and some people were still contemplating adopting a couple of others.  They allow walks from 10 am-12:45 pm, with a 2-hour limit on time with the dogs.  The pups then have lunch and nap time from 1-2 pm.  Guests are allowed to come in after 2 pm for more snuggles, but no outside walks are allowed by anyone other than the staff.  I spoke with the owner, and she said they place about 600 dogs annually and are a non-profit organization.  Please click on the link for their page above and donate!  People with a heart and ambition like Jane are few and far between.  She stressed they are very particular with who they place the dogs with, with which they have a 50% denial rate.  They make sure these pups go to good homes.  Thank you Jane and staff for doing what you do!  Your dogs are so fortunate to have you!

Local Fish Fry:  So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but pretty much everyone I ran into this week insisted that I go to this fish fry, which happens every Thursday night.  It is attended by locals and tourists alike and has free entry.  Once you walk in, you will see several tents and stalls set up which offer booze, local food, souvenirs, and homemade items by locals.  At the very end of the “path” is a stage with a DJ, band, and emcee who do a fabulous job of keeping the crowd and dancing.  I found some great homemade jewelry stands and purchased a pair of earring and a bracelet, as well as some salt scrub (TCI are known for the salt mined from deep underground deposits).  There were both flea market style merchandise and high-quality items, so expect to pay a range of prices.  The Emcee on stage was hilarious and encouraged people to come up and have dance contests where winners received various prizes from free drinks to parasailing tickets.  The Junkanoo band was neat to see as well with their traditional dress and music.

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Grace Bay Beach:  There are several areas for you to gain access to Grace Bay Beach.  “Smiths Reef” is the southern most part of Turtle Cove.  It notes some of the best snorkeling in the area.  Further up the coast is The Bight Beach which is another area for snorkeling and scuba diving.  Grace Bay Beach is in and around the resort area.  You can choose to rent chairs and umbrellas or “rough it” and lay on the beach with your trusty ole towel.  Parking was not an issue as there were several areas for local access to park and walk to the beach.  Further North is Leeward, which is more of the residential area.

My main goal of this trip was to relax and recharge and that is exactly what I did.  I didn’t feel rushed or obligated to go anywhere unless I wanted.  Considering how small the island is, it was easy to drive around and explore in the morning and still have plenty of time to do other things along the way or later in the day.  Had I done a little more research, I would’ve taken a day to go on the ferry to Middle Caicos and do a little exploring there.  I will say that while I saved money by staying at an Air Bnb, this trip was still a little on the pricier side.  If I return, it will be with another person or a group of people rather than coming solo.  Even though it served it’s purpose this visit, there are a lot of other things to do that would be more fun with others.  Until then, peace out to the beautiful British West Indies!

Any constructive questions and comments are welcome! Anything rude will be deleted. :)